Rum is a key ingredient in some of the best cocktails. It doesn’t matter if you want a mojito, a Cuba Libre, a daiquiri, or one of literally hundreds (if not thousands) of other cocktails, you’re going to need a good bottle of rum to make whatever you have planned.
The question then, as always, is what rum do you choose? Do you go with a white rum? A spiced rum? An aged or a dark rum? It all comes down to what you want to do with it. If you want a spirit-forward cocktail (such as a rum Old Fashioned), you’ll probably want an aged rum. Mixing up a batch of daiquiris? Go with a white rum.
To help you choose, we’ve compiled a list of the best rums for mixing below. Then, once you’ve made your way through these, check out the rum winners of The Manual Spirit Awards 2018.
Flor de Caña 4
Aged for four years, Flor de Caña 4 is clear as water and light-bodied making it perfect for light mixed drinks, even as simple as rum and tonic. The coconut, vanilla, and light barrel notes are enough to keep up with a bit stronger mixers as well, so grab a Flor de Caña 4 and enjoy the toasty sugar cane finish.
A rum list wouldn’t be complete without Bacardí, especially a list of mixers. The brand is almost synonymous with rum and its cheap price tag doesn’t take away from its distinct flavor. Its vanilla, cooked sugar, and extremely light oak can balance a cocktail without getting lost, but it can also let the mixer shine as if its meant to take a back seat.
Papa’s Pilar Blonde
Named after Ernest Hemingway’s beloved fishing boat and now distilled near his house in Key West, Papa’s Pilar Blonde is a perfect match for Hemingway’s favorite cocktail, the daiquiri.
Light gold and slightly sweet with strong citrus notes, Papa’s Pilar is perfect for kicking classic clear rum cocktails up a notch. Blonde rums like Papa’s Pilar Blonde often make for some of the best rums for mixing as it falls into a zone of perfection standing up to its drink mate.
Mount Gay Eclipse
Established in 1703, Mount Gay is by all accounts the oldest manufacturer of rum. Darker in color and heavier in body than the previous two entries, Mount Gay stands up better to mixers like Coca-Cola for a classic rum and coke, garnished with a lime wedge of course. Aged in Kentucky oak barrels, the rum’s floral and fruity notes are balanced by smoke and vanilla.
Plantation Grande Reserve Barbados Rum
Through a complex aging process, beginning with two years bourbon barrels in Barbados then a year in small oak casks in France, the Plantation Grande Reserve Barbados Rum is aged for three years but carries a color hinting at more. The amber colored rum is packed with tropical fruit as well as a strong-layered vanilla from the bourbon aging. Its complexity and strength allow it to shine through in with stronger mixers like ginger beer.
Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum
If you’re going to be mixing rum drinks, then you’ll want a bottle of overproof rum handy. Coming in at a whopping 63 percent alcohol by volume, Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum is not something you use heavily. Mixing it into drinks in small amounts gives the drink a kick and livens things up a bit.
Appleton Estate Reserve Blend
A Jamaican rum, Appleton Estate Reserve Blend brings together 20 aged rums (all aged at least six years) into one bottle. The final product is full-bodied, spicy, and nutty, with dried fruit notes from nose to finish. This is an excellent rum to use in lieu of whiskey in spirit-forward cocktails like the Old Fashioned.
Don Papa Rum
Made in the Philippines, Don Papa Rum is for those that like things a little sweeter. You can use it as a replacement for whiskey in most drinks thanks to the caramel, honey, and candied fruit flavors, but it really shines in tiki cocktails or others that allow the tropical flavors in the rum to come through.
Gosling’s Black Seal
Ever heard of a Dark and Stormy? The Gosling’s company has had the drink trademarked in the US since 1991. The “dark” part of the drink got its name from the use of Gosling’s Black Seal, a black rum from Bermuda that is rich and luxurious, full of caramel and vanilla flavors that complement the zing of the ginger in the cocktail.
Named for Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, one of the fathers of American tattooing, Sailor Jerry is a 45 percent ABV spiced rum that can be used in just about any cocktail you can think of. The ABV (which is higher than most similar rums) helps it stand up in drinks with crushed ice (such as tiki drinks) and it brings to life simple highball drinks like a rum and coke.
Article originally published by Pat Evans on August 14, 2017. Last updated by Sam Slaughter on October 18, 2018, to include more rum options.